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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Sanp : a communication level protocol for supporting machine-to-machine negotiation in organization Chang, Man Kit


Organizations are distributed systems where agents (workers, departments, etc.) cooperate with one another to achieve organizational goals. However, conflict is also an inherent component of the process. In designing computer systems which aim to automate organizational activities, we need to consider the conflicts among agents and how they can be resolved. Distributed Artificial Intelligent (DAI) researchers have long been interested in the question of how to resolve conflicts among cooperative agents in distributed problem solving environments. Negotiation has been suggested by many researchers as an important technique to resolve conflicts. However, most of the existing negotiation protocols used in DAI systems are inflexible. Actual protocols rarely take into account the results from negotiation research. In this paper, we propose a negotiation protocol, SANP (Speech Act based Negotiation Protocol), that is based on Ballmer and Brennenstuhl's speech act classification, and on the negotiation analysis literature from other disciplines. SANP is a flexible protocol that supports multi-level negotiations between two parties. In addition, SANP also allows third party arbitration if the parties involved in the negotiation cannot resolve the conflict themselves. The protocol is implemented as a domain independent system using Strudel which is an electronic mail toolkit for managing electronic mail based conversations. A small study was conducted to test the protocol. A number of limitations of the protocol have been found in this study. Suggestions on how to improve the protocol are also discussed in this thesis.

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